|Loreto, Baja california Sur, February 16, 2009
Spent a long day today, but a very interesting one.
We hired a guide, Judy originally from Britain, who chose this area to live in. She has studied the history, the flora and fauna, and the people, so is really good. Sometimes a bit too enthusiastic, but just has to get in all the information!
The Jesuits came to this area in the late 1700's to establish missions to the indians. They buit the mission here in Loreto (see our first stop here), and then decided to go up in to the mountains. They probably learned about the sources of water up there from the local indians, and went up to establish the mission at Javier (named for St Francis Xavier) Since the mission at Loreto was destroyed by first an earthquake, then a hurricane, the mission at Javier qualifies as the oldest one in the Californias.
It is a beautiful building, which has been preserved exactly as built. Impressive and beautiful.
On the way up to the mission, we learned that the road was built in the late 1940's. Before that, there was only a mule trail, clinging to the sides of cliffs. It's about twenty miles up to the mission, and the road really is pretty bad in places. Reminds me of the logging roads leading up to the Seymour arm of the Shushwap Lakes, only a bit worse. They are in the process of rebuilding it, and paving it. It'll undoubtedly be a much better road, but I wonder what it will do to the locality. It's so beautiful, that a better road will attract many more tourists, and all the not so nice things with them. Progress always comes at a price.
There are numerous ranches up the valley we travelled, and I wondered what cattle could survive in the desert conditions. They are mostly the old fashioned longhorns of the John Wayne movies. Skin and bones, and not much meat, but they can survive.
Up a Javier, there are springs which provide a steady water supply, and some of the original missionaries designed and built irrigation systems, with cisterns and ditches to carry water where it's needed. They planted date palms, olive trees and lots of orange and mango trees. They still grow in abundance, where the water is available.
We visited a small farm (6.5 hectares) where vegetables are grown for the markets. Beans, onions peas, tomatoes, cauliflower, cilantro,squash, potatoes and so on. The plowing is done with mules, and much hand labour is involved.
We're off tomorrow to Santispac on Bahia Concepcion, where we will dry camp for three nights, then two nights at Mulege, one at Guerrero Negro. Not sure about wifi at any of those places, so maybe nothing for about a week.
Chuck & Janet